BIODIVERSITY IS EVERYONES BUSINESS

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Image: Critically endangered grasslands reserved at Williams Landing to protect some of Victorias most endangered ecosystems
and offset the ecological impact of urban growth

Australia has a unique biodiversity which is a major source of sustenance, health, well-being and recreation for us all, and we have a responsibility to preserve and protect it for future generations of Australians to appreciate and enjoy.

“About 84 per cent of our plants, 83 per cent of our mammals, and 45 per cent of our birds are endemic;

they are only found in Australia.”

Sadly, Australian biodiversity faces many threats and the number one threat today is habitat loss which occurs through the process of fragmentation.  Our already heavily modified landscape continues to be fragmented by clearing for urban development and agriculture.

Linear infrastructure is a pervasive part of our modified landscape and is heavily responsible for the division of habitat into smaller fragments.  Fragmentation due to linear infrastructure is in part being mitigated by the installation of wildlife crossing structures (culverts, underpasses, overpasses, canopy bridges) across several different types of linear infrastructure to facilitate the safe crossing of wildlife over or under it and in the case of roads and railways, preventing collision with vehicles.

These areas of connectivity across the landscape also known as habitat corridors link up areas of animal and plant populations that would otherwise be isolated and at greater risk of local extinction.  They support natural processes including the movement of species to find food and water, and they increase population viability.

Road builders, road funders, road owners and road construction and management agencies have a responsibility to meet legislative requirements, and are under constant pressure, to protect our unique habitat from becoming endangered or extinct. From their perspective it is important to design and implement effective mitigating measures that will decrease the fragmentation effects of linear infrastructure and increase population viability.

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Image:  Integrating habitat corridors with Infrastructure:  The fencing off and linking of these habitat corridors in Truganina will allow for the regeneration of rare endangered fauna species like the Striped Legless Lizard found in the grasslands of Wyndham

At Laino Excavations we contribute to protecting biodiversity through our involvement in drilling deep foundations for wildlife crossing structures throughout Victoria. The footbridge in Figure 1 is an example of this. It was the result of a government initiative to preserve remnants of rare plain grasslands within Wyndham’s urban growth zone.

While roadbuilders, contractors, government and associated agencies have an obvious role in protecting Australia’s biodiversity, biodiversity is everyone’s business! All Australians have a role to play in protecting our rich biodiversity.  Individuals and communities have a responsibility to be informed about and implementing our own measures to protect and improve the natural environment that surrounds us.

The Department of Environment and Energy recommend numerous ways individuals and communities can help protect biodiversity in their local area:

  • Create a natural habitat in your backyard. Look at plants that are native to your region and help create a backyard sanctuary for local birds and wildlife. Even habitat corridors retained in backyards can play a vital role in maintaining connectivity between wildlife populations.  The frequency of the corridor may be very low, but the movement of just one or two animals between populations can be critical!

  • Get rid of weeds. What seems like a perfectly harmless plant can turn into a noxious weed if it jumps your back fence and heads into bushland.

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle. Look at ways to reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill and the waterways. Many things can now be recycled.

  • Start your own compost bin. Organic matter like vegetable peelings which usually ends up landfill is great for your garden. Start composting and you can reduce the need for chemicals and fertilizers in the garden and improve the health of your soil.

  • Only put water down the drains. Things like oils and chemicals may start at the kitchen sink but end up in our waterways and seas and can affect animals and plants living in streams and rivers. Instead of using commercial cleaning chemicals try using white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

For more information on biodiversity and biodiversity-related programs visit http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity

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